NFP principle: Consistency within and integration beyond the forest sector 

Definition and significance

When countries initially agreed to the NFP approach during the IPF, they emphasized that national forest programmes demand a broad intersectoral approach at all stages. NFPs should be implemented in the context of each country's socio-economic, cultural, political and environmental situation and should be integrated into wider programmes for sustainable land use, in accordance with Chapters 10 to 15 of Agenda 21. The activities of other sectors, such as agriculture, energy and industrial development, should be taken into account.

Consistency in the context of NFPs comprises of the following dimensions:

  • Consistency within the forest sector refers to coherence among the economic, environmental and social objectives assigned to forests in a country. It also refers to the coherence of structures and activities related to:
    • legal prescriptions relevant to forests, including customary laws and traditional rights;
    • coordination between the NFP and other forest related initiatives; and
    • cooperation between centralized and decentralized institutional structures.
  • Integration of the NFP beyond the forest sector means to establish links to overarching policies and enhance consistency with other sectors.  
    • Links to overarching policies refers to integration of forestry issues into national development and poverty reduction policies. Equally important is to assess integration of the country´s development and poverty reduction objectives into the NFP.
    • Consistency with other sectors refers to harmonization of policies and legislation and increased coordination and cooperation across relevant sectors.

@FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Forests serve various functions and provide different goods and services, even beyond the forest sector. Correspondingly, forests are significantly impacted by other sectors. Therefore, the NFP concept pursues consistency across sectors, for example to reach secure forest tenure and adequate economic valuation of forest products and services. NFPs promote the sustainable use and conservation of forest resources as well as development of (rural) markets and employment opportunities beyond the forest sector.

To promote consistency and integration, existing regulations, traditional rights and practical implementation measures should be carefully analysed in forest and other relevant sectors. Other sectors’ development strategies and their impacts on forests should be understood. If gaps or contradictions are observed, respective modifications have to be made. There is also a need to develop mechanisms for intra- and intersectoral dialogue and consensus building.

How to measure progress

A set of indicators can facilitate measuring progress towards the forest sector’s consistency and its integration with other sectors. This measurement can take into account, among other factors:

  • recognition of forest functions and their economic, environmental and social contribution in the overarching national development policies, processes and strategies;
  • acknowledgement and promotion of opportunities offered by forests at different levels (e.g. in regional, national, provincial or district development plans);
  • findings about legal inconsistencies and policy gaps (within and outside the sector), and measures and arrangements taken for their removal;
  • institutional set-up, hierarchical insertion and performance towards sustainable forest management;
  • existence and application of financial/fiscal policies and mechanisms contributing to sustainable forest management;
  • number and impact of joint forest stakeholder activities (e.g. private–public partnerships);
  • recognition and support of the national forest policy in the action plans of multilateral environmental agreements to which the country is signatory (e.g. in the National Biodiversity Strategy) and vice versa;
  • trends in the share of the forest sector in the country economy, taking into account the multiple benefits of forest products and services;
  • degree of representation and active participation of stakeholder groups and other sectors in forest coordination mechanisms, and vice versa.

Country Experiences

Country experiences are based on a 2010 survey carried out by FAO and the NFP Facility to better understand how NFPs work in practice.

Although NFPs should be integrated into wider programmes for sustainable land use, this is rarely the case in practice. The mandate and role of an NFP in coordinating forest-related activities across sectors is often neither clear nor widely accepted.

In many countries, other sectors show a limited willingness to participate actively in NFP processes or consider fully the outcomes of NFP processes in their respective policies or planning processes. Often this is because the benefits of cooperation are unclear and the contributions of forest products and services to local livelihoods and economic development are still insufficiently recognized. Also, forest agencies may not fully understand the views of other sectors and how they work.

Options to encourage greater intra- and intersectoral participation and impact include:

  • generating and communicating evidence of the actual or potential contribution of the forest sector to the national economy and to other sectors;
  • creating possibilities for multi-stakeholder round tables or platforms for discussion, coordination and cooperation in different levels, involving also high-level policy makers;
  • encouraging joint activities by two or more initiatives or ministries, to address key issues of common interest;
  • marshalling the support of NGOs and the private sector to foster cooperation within and between sectors;
  • involving NFP coordinators in the development of policies and strategies in other sectors that affect forests.

last updated:  Tuesday, August 7, 2012